Tommy Emmanuel shares advice given to him by Chet Atkins: “You cannot force music”

“It has to come to you and flow through you.”

Acoustic guitarist and fingerstyle great Tommy Emmanuel has shared advice given to him by fellow musician Chet Atkins, otherwise known as “Mr. Guitar”, and has reflected on what advice he would give to other musicians.

Appearing on the Acoustic Guitar Podcast, the musician spoke to host Nick Grizzle about his creative process, as well as how he takes Chet Atkins advice into his own work.

Emmanuel states that “one of the best things I’ve learned from Chet is: learn the melody,” he recalls. “Even if you change it and make it your own thing, still learn the original melody properly and then go from there.”

“Chet Atkins said to a lot of people, ‘When you learn a song, make sure you learn the words so you know what you’re playing about and you know what the song is about,’” adds Emmanuel. Even if you are playing an instrumental piece, the guitarist notes, Atkin’s advice extended to learning the words.

But it isn’t just Atkins that had valuable advice to give, as Emmanuel is not shy in sharing advice with fellow musicians: “You cannot force music, it doesn’t work. It has to come to you and flow through you. For me, it is important to play what I think is right and to serve the song properly. I could play all over the place in every song if I wanted to, but why would I want to do that,” recalls the guitarist.

You can listen to the full podcast below:


The destination for all things guitar.

© 2023 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.